Obaseki again, said FG May Be Unable to Pay Salaries Beyond June Without Removing Fuel Subsidies or Massive Printing of Money
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, yesterday said the federal government may not be able to pay workers’ salaries beyond June 2023 without resorting to massively printing money or removing fuel subsidies during an event.
Obaseki disclosed this while delivering his address during the 2023 May Day celebration with the theme, “Workers’ rights and socio-economic justice,” held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, in Benin City.
But in a swift reaction, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Chris Ngige, yesterday, told Obaseki to focus on his state and lead by example by cutting the cost of governance in his state.
Dignitaries at the May Day celebration event in the state included the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu; Secretary to Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie; Edo State Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha; Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Marcus Onobun, and the Chief Judge of Edo State, Hon. Justice Itsebaga Acha, amongst others.
The governor, who reassured that his government would sustain reforms and projects to improve the welfare of workers and ensure better livelihoods for the Edo people, urged the workers in the country to shift from the tradition of reacting when policies that affect them have already been made but take charge and ensure full transparency and accountability of government’s policies and programs.
Obaseki said, “It would be a miracle for the federal government and state governments to pay salaries beyond June this year without resorting to massively printing money or removing fuel subsidies. Either of these decisions will bring more hardship and pain to Nigerians, particularly workers.
“We must all make sure that the burden and pain of these measures, which must be taken, are not carried by workers alone. Workers must now rise and ensure that they champion any discussion on subsidy removal. You must shift from the tradition of reacting when these policies have been made but insist that you take charge and ensure full transparency and disclosure.
“If we are all undertaking a reform, then the benefits and pains that will come out of the reforms must be mutually shared by all Nigerians, not just the downtrodden.”
Reaffirming his government’s commitment to the welfare of workers in the state, Obaseki noted, “I am proud to say that Edo workers are currently the best-paid workers in Nigeria. When we announced the increment of the minimum wage to N40,000 at this venue last year, I expected that the federal government and other state governments would follow suit immediately but I am surprised that it has taken them one year already.
“My promise to Edo workers here today is that the day the federal government is able to pay its new minimum wage and hand over a cheque to any federal worker, that day, we will match the federal government and do the same for state workers.
“As your governor, I will ensure that workers are fairly treated so that your take-home pay can really take you home. Our government has kept faith with prompt and regular payment of staff salaries and retirees’ benefits in the state in the last six years.
“As a tradition, salaries are paid latest on the 26th day of every month and for any holiday celebrations, our workers are paid before the celebration so that they have money to celebrate.”
He added, “We currently do not owe arrears of promotion in Edo State because I have approved the promotion of all staff for 2022 which I believe will boost the morale of staff and the performance of our workers.”
Hailing the workers’ contributions to the growth and development of the state, the governor stated, “Our vision is to make Edo State the best place to work and live in Nigeria.
“I appreciate the sacrifices of our workers and their unwavering dedication and zeal as these have led to the growth and development of our dear State in the last six years despite the difficulty suffered following the poor management of the nation by the federal government.
“Our workers are the unsung heroes of society and the engine that powers our economy and we will continue to prioritize your welfare.
“This is why we will continue to embark on a series of reforms to boost your morale and productivity, ensuring the right incentives and enabling the environment to deliver quality service to Edo people.
“This is in addition to the reforms we have embarked on in education, healthcare, technology, economy, agriculture, and many other sectors.”
He continued: “We are investing in Infrastructure to provide our workers with a modern, more equipped, and dignified work environment to enable them to become more productive and deliver quality service to our people.
“We are installing fiber optic cables across all local governments so that government offices will now have internet connection. The John Odigie Oyegun Service Academy is the best in Africa and is being effectively used daily to train our workers to make them the best in Africa.
“We have removed all processes of interference with our recruitment exercise to ensure that the recruitment process is free, fair, and merit-based.
“We have also kicked off the policy to ensure that any student of Edo extraction who makes a first class in any University in Nigeria is given an opportunity for automatic employment into the state’s civil and public service as we want the best.”
The governor added, “I appeal to workers to ensure they register in the health insurance scheme and utilize it effectively.”
Obaseki Makes Case for Funding of Tertiary Education By Donors, Endowments
In the meantime, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has made a case for business leaders and public-spirited individuals and groups to support the funding of tertiary education through donations and endowments.
The governor made the submission at the inauguration of the Senator Daisy Ehanire Danjuma Hostel for Girls at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Main Campus in Ugbowo. The hostel was built and donated by the Danjuma Foundation.
He said, “Over the last few years, I have made a case for a shift in the way we run our higher institutions. There is a need to allow more room for private participation through philanthropy gestures and endowments.
“Donations such as this are the only key sources of improving the infrastructure that will help enhance the learning environment and to lift the burden of government as the government does not have the resources to fund universities but to look for alternatives.”
He urged individuals, corporate organizations, and governments to continue to support tertiary institutions in the area of institution upgrade and also funding of Research and Development (R&D) initiatives to make the institutions compete with their peers across the globe.
Obaseki noted that “The Edo State government has offered resources to enhance the road infrastructure in this institution as we are not oblivious of the ripple effects of thriving tertiary institutions in Edo State.”
Speaking on the inauguration of a world-class women’s center, he said, “I want to formally invite you to another commissioning on Tuesday 2nd of May 2023, where we will be commissioning the Sen. Daisy Ehanire Danjuma Women Center. It is a facility for women with accommodation, skill acquisition training center, gender-based violence clinics to support women who are abused, as they will get care there.”
Obaseki also commended the Danjuma Foundation for supporting the state government, noting, “I appreciate the amount of support, medical equipment and cash donations which the foundation, Lt. Gen. Yakubu Danjuma (rtd.) and Sen. Daisy offered us during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.”